Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Posts Categorized: The Writer’s Life

Road House, nice, kind, the difference between kind and nice, victim mentality, setting boundaries, codependency, Kristen Lamb, setting boundaries with users, learning to say no, toxic people and nice

Our culture trains us to be ‘nice.’ No is a two-letter ‘four-letter word.’ Boundaries are ‘being mean.’ We should all strive to ‘understand, be flexible, and all get along.’  It’s as if there’s no middle ground between jerk and b$#@ versus someone with a healthy sense of boundaries.

Besides *chirpy voice* good deeds add up. If we’re nice to others, they’ll be nice to us! In fact the NICER we are, the better.

*gags*

The problem with this thinking is it’s utter and total bull sprinkles. It’s propaganda for the takers to groom eager givers, to keep us in line and happy to give more and more…even when its killing us.

Part of how predators (takers) maintain the grift is to fool us into believing that effort and results always have direct correlation.

What they don’t want you or me (or anyone else brave enough to confess to being a sucker) is this: The one-to-one ratio regarding effort and reward only applies in certain areas.

We’re bombarded with the notion that if we work twice as long, we can expect twice the results.

This IS true, just not universally true.

More is Not Always MORE

Road House, nice, kind, the difference between kind and nice, victim mentality, setting boundaries, codependency, Kristen Lamb, setting boundaries with users, learning to say no, toxic people and nice

Let’s use an example. Say I work twice as long and twice as hard cleaning my house. Yes, my house will be twice as clean. Say, I make a clean spot and work four times, five times, ten times longer and harder to make my house SHINE.

I organize every drawer and closet, touch up ugly dings in the floorboards with leftover paint, and scrub and polish everything in my house that doesn’t move fast enough to evade my Swiffer (I’ve never done this *whistles innocently*) then sure, my home will look AMAZING.

My results will reflect time, effort, and vigor in direct proportion to effort vested.

If, however, I work twice as hard to get people to like me, the more likely my enthusiasm will simply make others run away while mumbling words like ‘needy,’ ‘clingy,’ and ‘stalker.’

Most reasonable folks would agree that taking a shower daily is a good thing. Taking thirty showers a day? This doesn’t make me ‘cleaner,’ it makes me a classic case of OCD and prime candidate for behavioral therapy and psych meds.

But This Isn’t ME

Okay, okay I get it. Some of you are laughing at me right now. Kristen, I don’t take thirty showers a day. I’m lucky take one. I barely have time to call my friends once a month, let alone ten times a day. This just doesn’t apply to me.

Fair point, but bear with me.

See, when I focus the effort-reward correlation on ONE activity, the insanity is far easier to see. No one needs a degree in clinical psychology to discern that mowing our yard twice a day is…well, crazy.

But how many of us overcommit? We say yes to everything and everyone believing the more we DO, the better person we are. The more we are nice to others, the more OTHERS will be nice to us. More NICE expended equals more NICE returned.

Right?

An Example

So I don’t hurt any feelings, I’m going to make up an example I believe many of us ‘nice guys/gals’ can relate to.

Let’s say your boss assigns your colleague a very important task. She’s to host a dinner party for the out-of-town investors your company wants to impress. You’re stoked because you’ve been eagerly looking forward to networking with the movers and shakers in your industry.

Four days before the event, your colleague calls frantic and asks you to help. You say yes, because you’re so nice. You assume maybe she needs help making seating arrangements or folding napkins into swans.

It’s only after you agree to help that your colleague confesses she hasn’t even started.

She’s gonna get fired! Your desperate colleague is in crisis and begs for your help (while ugly-crying). She might say things like:

You’re the type of person who can handle this! Why did Mr. Boss pick me and not you? What will the investors think? How will this impact the company image? I can’t believe I messed up so badly *sobs*.

And you comfort her and agree to help because you’re so incredibly nice. Worse, you’re beyond nice (you’re pathologically nice).

Since this colleague failed to book a venue or hire caterers early enough, you know the bill for something so last-minute will be staggering. It’s fine, though. You can host at your in-law’s large home and do the cooking yourself. Then the company will see how much money you saved them and all you did to pull off—a frigging miracle—an incredible party.

Sure it sucks you had to hire a professional cleaning service to detail your in-law’s home and took three vacation days to cook a gourmet spread that catered to paleo, vegan, and vegetarian preferences (all organic and gluten-free).

But it will all pay off.

Besides, you gave your colleague the receipts so she can make sure you’ll be reimbursed.

Alas, during the dinner party, instead of networking as planned and boosting your career up a few rungs, you’re too busy in the kitchen making sure there are enough clean wine glasses.

Meanwhile, your ‘desperate’ colleague is remarkably at ease. She’s happily chatting away in her new designer dress while you hide…since you smell like a turducken had a one night stand with a Bananas Foster.

As you’re cleaning the red wine stain off your MIL’s cream carpet, you overhear your boss praising your colleague for such ingenuity. She put together a fabulous event, and did so by applying imagination, creativity, delegation and using only half the allotted budget!

*Boss gaping at the receipts she hands him*

Just as you’re contemplating whether your colleague’s body will fit in the trunk of your Honda, she comes and hugs you and tells you how you are the BEST! She couldn’t have done it without you and you’re a magician.

Funny thing, though. If you’re the magician, how is she the one who disappears when the party ends and it’s time to clean up?

Any guesses on who got the promotion?

Hint: She ain’t the one washing dishes.

We’re Called to Be KIND Not NICE

nice, kind, Road House, the difference between kind and nice, victim mentality, setting boundaries, codependency, Kristen Lamb, setting boundaries with users, learning to say no, toxic people and niceAs a writer, I’m particularly picky about words. There are far too many words used as synonyms, when they really aren’t. Kind and nice are my peeves because our culture uses them interchangeably. Yet, kind and nice are NOT the same thing. Not even close.

We’ve likely all heard Nice guys (gals) finish last. But who’s ever heard, Kind guys (gals) finish last?

Ever heard Kill em with niceness? Yeah. Me neither.

What’s the difference?

Nice people are nice. They place everyone and everything as a priority ahead of themselves. When we’re nice, we’re people-pleasers and approval addicts. We seek reward via a proxy, instead of hustling it for ourselves (I.e. Trusting the colleague to make sure credit went where credit was due).

In my made-up example, the nice gal ends up doing the dishes. If she’d been a kind gal, she would have said a loving, but firm NO the second she realized her colleague hadn’t even started planning the party.

The colleague then would either a) be fired b) learn how to make her own magic in four days or c) fallen on her sword and gone to boss and explained the help she needed so everyone received proper credit (and appropriate workload).

But, since nice people get a rep for saying yes, we end up prime targets for users. Users loooove people who can’t set boundaries, because then it’s easier to take all they want and never give back, largely because ‘nice’ people wouldn’t hear of it.

We ‘nice folks’ say dumb crap like, Oh no, it’s fine you damaged my favorite blouse, broke my weed-eater, ‘forgot’ to come help me move (even though I’ve helped you move six times), etc. I understand.

Be Nice…Until It’s Time NOT to Be Nice

The 1989 movie Road House with Patrick Swayze is a brilliant illustration of the difference between kind and nice. Swayze plays Dalton, a professional bouncer and the best in the business. Tilghman, the owner of a sleazy bar in Missouri—The Double Deuce—hires Dalton in a last ditch attempt to clean the place up.

Tilghman is desperate. Everyone is out of control—customers, servers, staff, bouncers, and bartenders. Tilghman, being a ‘nice guy,’ has been unable to rein in the chaos and terror. He’s sunk a lot of money into a place where ‘you have to sweep the eyeballs off the floor at night.’

When Dalton makes an initial visit, it’s clear what’s going so horribly wrong. There are no boundaries or consequences for bad behavior. Some bouncers are more hot-headed than the patrons they throw out the front door. Other bouncers are too timid and allow customers to walk all over them. This then escalates into brawls and a lot of broken glass and blood.

Probably the best part of the movie is when Dalton lectures the bouncers and staff about being ‘nice.’

***Warning. There is brief profanity in this clip.

Dalton understands how important it is to be kind in order to deescalate tension, allow potential troublemakers to save face, and eventually attract the right sort of clientele. A higher quality patron won’t tolerate a bar where the staff is rude and disrespectful.

Yet, in this clip, Dalton brilliantly illustrates the difference between kind and nice.

Kindness is Power

The main difference between nice and kind is nice is a byproduct of weakness, fear, uncertainty, and low self-esteem. Kindness, by contrast, is a byproduct of confidence, peace, and respect for others as well as for oneself.

A kind person sets boundaries, commands respect, and learns when and how to say no. Kind people are comfortable with consequences. While happy to loan out an air compressor, if the borrower breaks it? They buy it or pay for it to be repaired. If they don’t? They lose the privilege of borrowing anything ever again.

Users pull a fast one…once.

No-ing What You’re Worth

Road House, nice, kind, the difference between kind and nice, victim mentality, setting boundaries, codependency, Kristen Lamb, setting boundaries with users, learning to say no, toxic people and nice

It’s easy to claim we have dreams and goals. But do we? REALLY? I challenge y’all to check where exactly those dreams and goals sit on the priority list. Lemme guess, they haven’t even made the list.

STOP BEING NICE. Nice people indiscriminately say yes. Problem is, while we’re saying yes to everyone else, we’re constantly telling ourselves no.

Actually, we tell ourselves ‘later’—which is is ancient Aramaic for NEVER #TrueFactIJustMadeUp.

I get the house is a mess, but guess what? It can wait. Science has proven others can figure out how to use a vacuum, even teenagers. Send them a YouTube video, if need be. Hide the car keys in the garage and they’ll clean that sucker OUT.

It is also possible to put words on a page or in a blog…with dirty laundry present in your domicile. Dust will not negatively impact tweets and dingy whites have exhibited no measurable impact on story structure.

We are also—brace for it—under zero obligation to orchestrate/supervise so many play dates and ‘fun’ activities our kids grow up believing ‘Lido Deck’ means ‘Mom’ (or ‘Dad’) in Spanish, and that life is a never-ending Carnival Cruise.

How many of us are getting up before dawn or staying up after midnight because our dream might just inconvenience someone else? Let them be inconvenienced for a change.

So many of us creative people bend more than the karma sutra and…well, that’s perfectly okay! But, if our spouse or kids are forced to make a PBJ instead of enjoying a home-cooked meal, that’s asking too much?

No. It isn’t. So stop feeling guilty.

Feel free to spend all day or all week cleaning that house, baking cookies for the church bake sale, helping your brother-in-law write his resume (which is code for you writing his resume for FREE) and I’ll tell you what to expect. You’ll be lost, hurt, burned out, stressed, and feeling like a failure.

Why? Because none of that ‘other stuff’ endures. A finished novel remains even while clean laundry disappears faster than Tupperware lids cross-bred with men’s socks.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Finished being nice? I confess, I blog on all the stuff I struggle with. I’m a work in progress. I wondered if I might need tattoo removal to get WELCOME off my forehead. Still wonder at times.

Have you put everyone and everything ahead of your dreams and goals? This isn’t only for writers. Have you set aside going to college, getting an advanced degree, taking a vacation, buying underwear without holes because everyone seems to rank higher on the list?

Have you been conditioned to equate boundaries with being ‘mean’ or ‘selfish?’ Ever nearly killed yourself to help a friend, coworker, family member in crisis only to later realize you were completely used?

Been there more than a few times. Sigh.

Yet, I hope this post helps y’all can see you can be strong, powerful AND kind. In fact, *quick plug here* that is a HUGE part of what I’m going to be teaching in my new class Beyond Bulletproof Barbie. Making a woman bitter and mean doesn’t automatically make her stronger.

Oh, and Cait’s teaching Beyond the Princess Prodigy because chronic RBF offers no magical advantage. We can write a kick@$$ warrior with the strength to be imperfect.

Scroll down for our new classes on how to write POWERFUL FEMALES! Get the BUNDLE!

Treat yourself (at least half as well as you do others 😉 .

I love hearing from you!

What do you WIN? For the month of JUNE, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NEW CLASSES! ALL About the KICK@$$ FEMALES! 

Beyond the Princess Prodigy: Strong Females in Fantasy & Historical

Class starts the morning of 6/16/18 with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds 11:30 AM EST to 1:30 PM EST ($45)

Beyond Bullet-Proof Barbie: Strong Female Characters for a Modern World

The NEXT class starts the afternoon of 6/16/18 with ME, Kristen Lamb 2:00 PM EST to 4:00 MP EST ($45)

WANT DOUBLE THE DAME DANGER? Get the BUNDLE and SAVE!

Dangerous Dames Bundle: Pirate Princess to Bulletproof Barbie

Both Cait AND me for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! Squeee! SAVE $15 for the alcohol you might need afterwards to…celebrate 😀 ($75)

***Recordings included with purchase to reduce chances of ODing on AWESOME.

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

Busy, busy, busy. Aside from ‘parsnip‘ I’m beginning to think my new trigger word is ‘busy.’ A couple posts ago, I took on the insidious lie about us being able to ‘find time’.

There’s this generally accepted delusion that time is something we can find. No, time isn’t lost. We are. We can’t find time, we can only make time.

I bring up this notion of finding time for good reason. We tell ourselves we’d do X, if only we could find the time. Oh, but why can’t we find the time? Because we’ve been so unbelievably…busy.

Busy is an excuse, a copout, and a socially acceptable LIE. When we claim we’re ‘too busy’ we are often lying to others, ourselves or both.

***I am not counting last Friday when all our plumbing backed up into the HOUSE. I really WAS too busy to do my edits.

Yet, most of the times we claim we’re way ‘too busy’ we really aren’t. And, before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, I do this stuff, too. I’ve simply made it a point to catch myself when I use this word.

The word ‘busy’ is a red flag I’m lying about something…something probably important.

Busy Signal

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

Remember in ancient times when people used landlines, before call-waiting? What did we do when we didn’t want to be bothered? We took the phone off the hook so anyone trying to reach us would get a ‘busy’ signal. We used this tactic to keep other people AWAY from us.

Maybe we needed a nap. Perhaps we required quiet uninterrupted time for other more important things like doing bills, studying, enjoying a date, or arguing with a ‘loved’ one 😀 .

We might have been trying to avoid facing someone or something we felt unable to handle. Bill collectors, deadbeat exes, family members with zero concept of boundaries.

Sometimes, we’d hit a limit, and simply couldn’t face life in general. We believed with some calm, quiet and rest we’d somehow rally back, find the answers, or muster the courage. More often than not, though, we wanted to hide.

Maybe just me.

If we look at all the reasons I just listed for ‘taking the phone off the hook’ this can offer incredible insight into our modern version of this evasive maneuver. The I’ve just been so BUSY feint.

We can look at ourselves and others more honestly, which is imperative if we yearn to live intentionally.

It Isn’t That Important

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

As humans, we’re always ranking what is important and what isn’t. The bugger is we do this no matter what. If we let ourselves drift along on auto-pilot, our subconscious (reptile brain) will do our ranking for us.

The problem is our subconscious mind is the part of the brain known to put our keys in the fridge or toss the banana while keeping the peel.

In a nutshell, our subconscious is a smidge flaky.

When Lizard Brain makes a list, it intends to keep us ‘safe.’ If we fail to consciously choose what matters, our lizard brains will do the choosing for us. Lizard brain is wired for survival. This means Lizard GPS is pretty much always the path of least resistance.

This is how we end up prioritizing laundry, dishes, Facebook, etc. ahead of actions that will yield real results. Then, when we’re threadbare and exhausted, all we have to say for our efforts is we’ve been…busy.

Contrast this with making a conscious ranking, and it’s easy to see why we’re so happy to hand the Lizard our keys. If we made a choice to prioritize exercise, quality family time, finishing our novel, cleaning out our garage, we’d be forced to be honest with ourselves and others.

An Example

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

Yesterday, I attended my eldest nephew’s high school graduation. I was particularly close with this nephew when he was young. Yet, over time I saw him less and less. Despite invitations, messages and calls, I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen my nephew in the past four years (because he lives an HOUR away, not down the block anymore).

His go-to line is, ‘Sorry, Tante. I’ve just been so busy.’

***Tante is German for aunt.

The truth he either is unaware of or afraid to say? I’m a teenager and my girlfriend, school, sports, fishing, etc. is way more fun than hanging out with my middle-aged aunt.

Granted, the truth hurts, but can I really blame him? Um, yeah maybe school, sports, girlfriend and being a teenager slightly higher priority and more fun than driving an hour to hang with the middle-aged auntie 😛 .

Of course, part of me wants to remind him exactly how UN-FUN playing hours of HALO with a six-year-old really was. A six-year-old who hoarded ammo and got me killed no less than fifty times an hour. NO. A hundred!

How burying stuff in the yard and drawing treasure maps for him? Sitting in triple-digit heat for his peewee soccer games?

Yeah…not fun.

But I don’t because MY priorities have nothing to do with HIS. I was older when I chose to rank quality time with a child over whatever I found fun in 2005.

If I can see past the ‘lack of time’ facade because he is ‘so busy’ then I’m not wounded when he isn’t scheduling me in. Why? It isn’t a TIME problem at all. Granted I miss him, but that doesn’t mean I have to feel slighted by him.

Though if he thinks I’m sharing my plasma grenades with him ever again? MISTAKEN 😛 .

Pretty Fictions & Pointy Truths

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety
Meh, your little brother still thinks I am COOL.

Truth frees me to not take this personally. Instead of grieving ‘my nephew ignores me’ *sniff sniff*, it’s simply I’m not high on his list (likely not on it at all). This liberates me from chasing someone who doesn’t rank our relationship on the list of priorities.

***Leaves me more time to work on the younger one who always loved me MORE 😛 .

Seriously, my eldest nephew’s young and maturity hopefully will change his priorities. Make hanging out with me ‘cool’ again.

Overall, the point is that it isn’t personal.

My nephew tells me he’s busy because that’s easier, kinder, more polite than the truth. Control is not love. His priorities don’t have to be the same as mine.

Sure, I could use the guilt card (*cough* Remember HALO?) but then I’m forcing MY way. I’m juking the relational algorithm, which is known as manipulation.

FYI: Nothing good really ever comes out of manipulation.

Why families, friendships, relationships, etc. end up in drama is when we accept ‘busy’ at face value. We try harder because we cling to a lack of time being the core issue instead of the truth…we aren’t a priority.

Remember Dating?

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

How I wish I’d have understood all this when I was young. I remember going on a date, believing it went well because he said he’d call tomorrow.

Then days would pass with no call, no plans for another date. If I ran into this person, usually there was some rambling talk about so much work and blah blah blah and being busy.

It wasn’t me AT ALL, just they were BUSY. They would totally call…soon.

No, they had no intention of calling. Some were simply too chicken to say, Was real, was fun, but not real fun. Ghosting me was easier (Reptile move for sure) and ‘busy’ an easy out when forced into confrontation.

For others, ‘busy’ was a solid tactic to keep me hopeful. If the ‘busy’ hook worked, then the guy could always keep me in the wings as a backup. In case the girl he really liked said no to going out, Kristen would be waiting on that call.

As I matured and began to recognize the ‘busy’ feint, I moved on. This kept me from chasing guys who were too chicken or too selfish/greedy to be honest. I finally gained enough confidence (and wisdom) to grasp that, if a guy was really into me, he’d move heaven and earth to MAKE time.

And this is how I met my wonderful husband! Because I stopped filling my time with guys who weren’t that wild about me, I made room for the one guy who was completely crazy about me (and still is 10 years later) 😉 .

Busy is no excuse.

Yet, beyond dating, how many of us invite unnecessary pain by accepting ‘busy’? The boss who is ‘too busy’ to look at your ideas, the friend who is ‘too busy’ to call, the partner who is ‘too busy’ to help?

Deep down we know the truth (but are afraid of it) and this is why we end up defeated, wounded, anxious, neurotic, etc. If we got honest, we might change jobs, change friends, or change habits, but that’s a lot of work and kinda scary.

Okay, a LOT scary.

Willing vs. Unwilling

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

Thus far, Lizard has been making the lists. Time to take control. First of all, allowing others to use the ‘busy’ card, gives us a pass on confrontation. Our culture has made confrontation to be some horrible thing to be avoided at all costs. Confrontation has been made synonymous with fighting and anger.

Patently FALSE.

Confrontation really is a matter of willing versus unwilling.

If others are ‘too busy’ then let them be busy. Move on. If things change, and they truly value ‘whatever’ they’ll call. Yet, if they don’t, we’ve already let it go (along with all the feelings of rejection).

So far we’ve talked a lot about others. Now, what about us? When we consciously rank what is a priority and what isn’t, expect pain. We will have to choose the pain of what we want later over the thrill of what’s easy NOW.

Oh, and we’ll need to learn to invoke the NO.

Consciously choosing what is important keeps us out of the spiral of ‘I Suck.’ I don’t have six-pack abs and 12% body fat because I am unwilling to live in a gym and measure all my food. Thus, if I am UNWILLING to do these things, then I need to be okay with my relatively fit but fluffy self.

If I claim I’m WILLING to do all it takes to be a successful author (meaning actually sell books), then the ‘I’m too busy’ to write, take classes, build a platform, etc. doesn’t fly anymore.

Are You Willing?

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

My approach to building a brand and platform is not sexy, exciting and doesn’t magically sell a bazillion books overnight. I created a system that worked with what I was willing and UNWILLING to do.

I am WILLING to be patient and invest long-term building relationships. Totally willing to strengthen my writing skills (via blogging and books).

Conversely, I’m unwilling to hustle harder than an multi-level marketer crossed with a Jehovah’s Witness. I’m also unwilling to build my platform’s FOUNDATION anywhere I am not fully in control (ergo why I’m a fan of the blog and don’t trust Facebook).

I’m unwilling to automate, because I don’t like spam and am unwilling to serve it to others. I choose not to focus on promotions and ads and marketing because if it means even MORE work?

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

In life, I’m willing to be relentless, work hard, and do my best. I’m unwilling to do this at the expense of my integrity, my peace, my family and my friends.

This might mean I won’t have an immaculate home.

*heavy sigh*

But now, instead of whirling down the ‘I Suck’ spiral, I can be more at ease. I’m unwilling to give up choice writing time and make my family a neurotic mess…all to have a Good Housekeeping picture-perfect house.

I’m not lazy or a slob or not trying hard enough and I am certainly NOT too ‘busy.’ I simply have decided what I’m willing and unwilling to pursue. For me? Reading and taking more classes and writing and honing my skills is more important than having a Martha Stewart house or being a 44-year-old fitness model.

So, yoga pants covered in cat fur it is!

In the End

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety
Really? Can I come out then?

Once we face the truth (or fiction) of busy, we can let go of a lot of needless baggage. Life crises aside, generally we aren’t too busy to finish the novel, have buns of steel, or a shabby-chic perfect house if we truly want those things.

We aren’t too busy to call that old friend, we’re simply unwilling to get sucked into drama. We’re now willing to see we were never too busy. We were too sad, afraid, ashamed to face this person we care about is actually toxic.

Obviously the list could go on and on. What I hope to impress on y’all is we all can fall for the ‘busy’ without asking the next question. Are we really too busy, or do we suck at saying no and setting boundaries?

Do we really WANT that promotion, new car, hot body, Pinterest-worthy home, or best-selling book?

Kristen Lamb, ghosting, relationships and ghosting, setting boundaries, self-awareness and success, psychology, how to set priorities, dealing with self-criticism, handling anxiety

If we stopped and asked the next logical questions, we might realize we don’t want what we claim we do. Not really. And that is okay.

Once we let that go, we can stop the incessant inner narrative that tells us how much we suck. When I hear myself use the ‘busy’ feint, this is a HUGE road flare to stop and evaluate.

Am I ACTUALLY too busy? Or have I let Lizard do too much driving? Am I afraid, tired, failing to set and enforce boundaries, not being honest about what I want and don’t want?

Are there people, problems, hardships I need to confront but can’t because I lack courage, will, wisdom? Am I ‘taking life off the hook’ and giving the ‘busy signal’ to buy time? Is this a warning I need more rest?

It’s okay, we’re all (mostly) human here 😉 .

Frankly, life is too short to be busy.

I don’t know about y’all but who wants THIS headstone?

‘Here Lies Kristen: She Was Busy’

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you see ‘busy’ in a new way? Guilty of taking life off the hook to buy time so you could DEAL? *raises hand here* Have you wasted time chasing people, dreams, goals when a nice long pause might have saved a ton of grief?

Have you taken time to ask what you want and why? And do you really want it?

Does the idea of willing and unwilling help clarify? Maybe we aren’t as lazy, untalented, slow, etc. as we thought? Perhaps, when viewed through a different lens, we aren’t doing all too shabby.

Sure, my house is covered in cat fur, but my kid is fun and loving and kind!

I love hearing from you!

What do you WIN? For the month of JUNE, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

May’s winner announced next post!

Upcoming Class

Backstory—The Yarn Behind the Book

June 8th with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds. We need to know our character’s past, their gols, conflicts and motivations…but don’t get crazy 😉 .

NEW CLASSES! ALL About the KICK@$$ FEMALES! 

Beyond the Princess Prodigy: Strong Females in Fantasy & Historical

Class starts the morning of 6/16/18 with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds 11:30 AM EST to 1:30 PM EST ($45)

Beyond Bullet-Proof Barbie: Strong Female Characters for a Modern World

The NEXT class starts the afternoon of 6/16/18 with ME, Kristen Lamb 2:00 PM EST to 4:00 MP EST ($45)

WANT DOUBLE THE DAME DANGER? Get the BUNDLE and SAVE!

Dangerous Dames Bundle: Pirate Princess to Bulletproof Barbie

Both Cait AND me for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! Squeee! SAVE $15 for the alcohol you might need afterwards to…celebrate 😀 ($75)

***Recordings included with purchase to reduce chances of ODing on AWESOME.

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

There are SO many reasons why being a professional author is TOUGH. Much of what authors do is counter to human nature. It is NOT natural to sit still and write a 100,000 words. It’s human nature to avoid stress, pain, and trauma, while an author’s job is to inflict as much suffering as possible.

Good writers are death dealers, anguish agents, and pain peddlers (which probably is why we freak ‘normal’ people out). Yet, we know torment is necessary for the greater good. A ‘story’ without seemingly unbeatable odds, terrifying stakes, and white-knuckled tension isn’t a story.

It’s self-indulgent tripe.

The ultimate objective of any author worth their ink cartridges is to create so much pressure we might just give our readers the bends.

Yet, this is not ‘natural.’ It is also not simple. There is nothing about being an author that is easy, and thing is?

Most of us fear we don’t have what it takes.

We’re also terrified to admit this. So what do we do? We become our own worst enemies and self-sabotage. And, since writers generally are smart, we self-sabotage in ways that appear to be REAL work to the untrained eye.

Thus, today, we’re going to discuss some of the clever ways writers self-sabotage. Since I’ve been guilty of ALL of these (because I’m a ridiculous overachiever), I can speak from experience. When it comes to self-sabotage, I would have been top of the class…but didn’t study for the final until the night before.

Self-Sabotage—Give Me Liberty OR Give Me DEATH!

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

This writer longs to be completely FREE! No boundaries, restrictions, or rules. Total liberty. They throw caution to the wind and GO!

In the writing world, we refer to folks who write by the seat of their pants as ‘pantsers.’ Many new writers start out as a pantser, because we are dying to WRITE. We love ALL THE WORDS and want to get them down and on the page. Planning takes TIME! Ruins the spontaneity. Who needs a plot? *rolls eyes*

My story can’t be forced. Plot will reveal itself. Like, it’s totally ORGANIC.

***Know what else is totally organic? Bull$#!t. Just food for thought 😉 .

Anyway, this type of writer might (mistakenly) believe that an outline or anything remotely resembling a structure equals ‘formulaic writing.’ I know, because I claimed that nonsense at one time as well.

Truth was, I wanted to play with my imaginary friends, and learning craft was hard and boring and looked way more like HARD WORK than I was comfortable with.

Also, obviously, I was an ‘exception’ due to my superior, innately born, and gifted-from-angels ‘talent.’ Thus, the rules applied to everyone but me, because *hair flip* I was smarter.

Yep, sure.

All excellent stories have structure, because a story is akin to a living organism. It needs BONES, because guess what had no bones? The Blob. If we want a squishy creature that just keeps getting bigger and bigger by absorbing more characters, descriptions, plot bunnies and adverbs?

Meet BLOB, not BOOK.

If pantsing is your jam, that’s fine. But authors who are excellent pantsers took time to learn and understand how story structure WORKS. Sometimes this is a person who’s read a gazillion books. They’ve read SO many novels, structure is almost ingrained into their marrow.

Perhaps they wrote a crap ton of bad books that fizzled and died. After years of writing utter crap, eventually they didn’t.

These authors are like the self-taught musician who plays by ear.

Problem with this approach is a writer is more likely to give up than be successful. A creative can only endure so many stillborn stories, before we just give up.

Been there.

A person who learns to play a guitar by listening to music and plucking around can possibly be AMAZING. However, classes covering even basics like finger positions and chords can help…a lot. The would-be guitarist will get to making something that sounds like actual ‘music’ far faster.

Thus, the self-sabotage is not the writer’s choice to be a pantser, rather the almost savage reaction to any suggestion regarding learning structure.

Deep down the reason the writer won’t consider a log-line, outline, basic plot points is because of two false beliefs. First, they believe if they ‘succumb’ to *shivers* structure, they therefore lack talent.

Only amateurs need paint-by-numbers. <—me

Secondly, they might also believe they really DON’T have talent/ability. Thus, if they actually read the books and took the classes, they’d have no reason NOT to write amazing stories. <—totally me, too

Fearing authentic failure, the Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death crowd makes certain to always pick the path that leads to ‘something other than them’ being the source of failure. This could be failure to ever finish, or failure to write a book that sells (either to an agent or an audience).

I’m not writing the right genre. The idea wasn’t as good as I thought. Nobody is reading BLAH genre. My book isn’t bad, it’s ‘literary’ and agents/editors/readers just don’t ‘get’ my story.

Whatever.

Any excuse other than to admit fear of not ‘having enough talent.’

Self-Sabotage—The Craft Class JUNKIE

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

Knowing Amazon is chock full of ‘novels’—self-indulgent personal fantasy fulfillment tropes with no plot—this writer goes to the OTHER extreme. They hit the books, blogs, classes, conferences and do all the exercises. The Craft Class Junkie is a near relative of the professional college student.

This writer is perfectly okay, so long as their ‘knowledge’ is never actually put to the test. While brilliant regarding theoretical, they cave when it comes to practical application. Writers like this are always exploring various ‘methods.’

In fact, they likely never choose any method, or at least not long enough to finish and see it through. To practice with it until they are skilled.

See, writing is really, really freaking hard. Like the Give Me Liberty or Death group, Craft Junkies believe (again mistakenly) that if they were ‘good’ enough, writing a story would NOT be hard.

Which is total bunk.

Thus, the Craft Junkie might start out with the Snowflake Method, hit the inevitable second act slump, then shelve the story…because you know, snowflakes are flaky and it just wasn’t working. The story really needed this method or that method.

The Write A Novel in a Week By Channeling Your Spirit Animal! Now THAT’S the ticket.

Envision your story squirrel and merely describe what your story squirrel sees in as many words as possible.

The Liberty or Death and the Craft Junkie are two sides of the same coin.

The pantser is at least willing to write…a lot. Even if they have no idea where the hell they’re going, they at least GO. This writer actually NEEDS the craft training.

Conversely the Craft Junkie is incredibly educated, but it’s all theoretical. This author needs actual practice.

Writing is actually a trade/artisan skill which requires training AND loads of practice, practical experience, and yes…failure.

Self-Sabotage—The Background BOSS

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

Maybe we wrote some ‘stories’ or ‘novels’ and realized we had a bunch of paper dolls, talking heads, and kept writing ourselves into a corner. Eager to get to writing (with or without an outline) we jumped the gate. We failed to take time to really know and understand our characters.

Thus, we commit to knowing every character intimately from their favorite cereal to the name of their first kitten. We will open every psychological door!

Problem is, we can fall in LOVE with the background.

Backstory is to the novel what crossfit is to sports.

Seems close to the real thing but isn’t. We can self-sabotage with planning and more planning and adding more layers.

Backstory is fun because we have no skin in the game. It isn’t our NOVEL, which will actually test our mettle. It’s the intensive activity that permits a thrill of storytelling without any of the commitment.

Like doing crossfit, I can become extremely fit, which is fantastic if my goal is to simply be super fit.

It is only when I commit to applying this crossfit training to something else (a sport) that my ‘activities’ become more than rolling around large tires and swinging kettlebells. Application is the only place my strength, endurance, and dexterity can truly be measured.

Backstory is CRUCIAL. In fact, Cait is teaching a class on backstory I STRONGLY recommend. But if we aren’t vigilant, it can end up the writer equivalent of dragging around a tractor tire and believing this is progress. Backstory is to help make us the best at writing great novels, not number one at creating character profiles.

Backstory is IN THE PAST

Meaning it’s already happened. The true test of a storyteller is to use the past create an unknown future.

Sure, Fifi has had a bad life, but when presented with a problem that pokes her wounds, HOW DOES SHE DEAL/OR NOT DEAL?

Yet, the Backstory Boss isn’t comfortable going forward because that’s scary, and the past has passed and is safer.

Just as the crossfitter knows she can do cherry-pickers all day, she’s possibly afraid that, if she played field hockey or soccer or started doing roller derby, she might be terrible. Same with the writer who’s self-sabotage manifests in a ton of busy-work.

They’re endlessly tweaking backstories or even trashing perfectly good backstories and starting over…and over.

And over.

There is an insidious addiction to preparation and yet never enough preparation to commit to the ACTUAL GAME. Fear of failure, rejection, success all powers the self-sabotage cycle. #AskMeHowIKnow

Self-Sabotage—The Research Hoarder

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

Research MATTERS. Granted, some genres require more research than others. Cupcake Cozy vs. Epic Historical. Totally different levels of research, but might want to know a little about baking even for the cozy.

Trust me, I’m writing a horror set in the Old West. I can affirm that learning how to write historical has been an @$$ beating. I’ve read everything from Mark Twain to St. Augustine, to Goethe. I’ve watched countless documentaries, studied food, weapons, cooking, clothing, idiomatic expressions, medicine, global politics, *taps out*.

Yes, I HAD to research to make dead certain this story could reasonably happen. Granted, it is a Western Horror, but the speculative angle doesn’t give me a free pass on history/research.

As my coauthor (Cait) has lectured me, my characters cannot be riding train cars not yet invented or passing through towns not yet imagined, let alone established.

Yes, ma’am *whimpers and fetches ice pack*

In fact, research is critical for my world-building (I.e. the barber having a corner chair at the saloon pulling teeth while patrons eat and drink nearby).

Yet, there is a fine line between wanting the details to be correct ‘enough’ versus wanting them to be PERFECT. Perfect is the enemy of the finished. We will never write a perfect novel, so don’t try.

Remember the AUDIENCE

Yes, please research. It’s part of our JOB to know and understand the world we’re writing about. We’re also wise to appreciate that readers will gravitate to our novel because they LOVE the subject. It is prudent to appreciate our audience might even be knowledgable.

Thus, if we’re writing a mystery-suspense with a homicide detective as our MC, we BETTER know how that all works, because our AUDIENCE likely does. NOTE: Unless this is OUR professional background, our audience is probably NOT law enforcement (because they can’t watch Miami CSI without suffering an aneurism).

Much like if we write medical mysteries, medical personnel probably NOT our audience because they watched House once, and nearly died…of laughter.

Relax, Already

Sure retired lawyers, detectives, doctors, etc. write stories that even people who share their profession might enjoy…if they enjoy reading about WORK in their free time. But even the pros must take liberties for fiction.

Our audience generally will be people who know the broad strokes of these worlds (the ‘interesting parts’), but know them very, very well. They know about blood transfer, blood spatter, ballistics, Luminol, body lividity, etc.

Suspense, mystery, thriller readers are people who’ve watched so many episodes of Forensic Files they yell at murderers on Dateline the same way men yell at football games.

Seriously? You PAID the hit man with a PERSONAL CHECK under the video cameras at Taco BELL? You deserve the needle.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, the audience will (likely) know who does what job when and where and how. This means we (the authors) should know this stuff, too.

But, in the end, fiction is NOT reality.

self-sabotage, how writers self-sabotage, writing and productivity, writing tips, how to get published, write more books, Kristen Lamb, procrastination, writers and procrastination, fear and creativity

To paraphrase Hitchcock, ‘Fiction is life with the boring crap taken out.’ Accuracy, to a degree, draws readers into the fictive dream.

Yet, if we were completely accurate, then a murder mystery would be 400,000 pages long and detail excruciating paperwork for warrants, multiple interviews, polygraphs, interrogations, months waiting on DNA, CODIS, filing MORE paperwork, and answering every crackpot tip on the hotline.

Also gotta make sure the unit secretary Brenda Baffleghast’s retirement party is included because, you know…authenticity.

Oh and remember to include the local psychic who saw the murderer’s face burned on her toast!

Research is vital because the better we do this scouring, the easier it is to work seamlessly within our world without interrupting creative flow. The deeper the well to draw from, the richer the story, the more opportunities to create magic.

Beware of paralysis by analysis.

It is OKAY not to know everything…so long as we nail the major stuff.

I cannot have my MC traveling through the Fort Worth Stock Yards in 1860 BECAUSE IT DID NOT EXIST UNTIL 1876. 

This is a major point and something I reasonably should have researched and know while plotting.

Alas, expect some research troll to appear, majorly miffed who will write a detailed two-star review saying crap like, ‘Well, I couldn’t get into the book. The railroad didn’t use the gringle-doffer-doodle-mabobber until 1875 and the author has it in 1874. After that? I was totally thrown out of the story. I mean did the author even TRY?’

Sure did. Just not nearly as hard as you tried to be a total @$$…

At the end of the day…

All these ways of self-sabotage are not in and of themselves BAD or WRONG. It took me starting and never being able to finish 27 ‘novels’ for me to get a clue and maybe read a craft book…or ALL OF THEM. I ended up going to the OTHER extreme and was terrified to WRITE until I knew…EVERYTHING.

I’m not a plotter or pantser, I’m a plotser 😀 .

I have a hard-drive bursting with fantastic backstories I will likely never use. Not to mention I’ve listened to over TWO THOUSAND hours of audio books in less than two years. This is NOT counting time spent reading paper books or e-books on my Kindle, articles, papers….or the books taped behind my toilet.

Suffice to say my ‘research’ might have gone a tad…okay completely off the rails.

But I am much better now…. *drools*

So if you’ve been hiding in any of these self-sabotage safe spaces, it’s okay. The one leaving cookie crumbs? Probably me.

What Are Your Thoughts?

I love hearing from you! Did you see yourself in any of these ‘profiles’ or maybe…ALL of them? *hangs head* Have any to add? How do you struggle? If you’ve overcome one of these self-sabotaging habits, do you have tips, suggestions, war stories?

And if the BOG OF BACKSTORY is where you get stuck, remember Cait is teaching how to do this well…without needing safety line to make sure you return to your loved ones 🙂 .

Backstory—The Yarn Behind the Book

June 8th with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds

NEW CLASSES! ALL About the KICK@$$ FEMALES! 

Beyond the Princess Prodigy: Strong Females in Fantasy & Historical

Class starts the morning of 6/16/18 with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds 11:30 AM EST to 1:30 PM EST ($45)

Beyond Bullet-Proof Barbie: Strong Female Characters for a Modern World

The NEXT class starts the afternoon of 6/16/18 with ME, Kristen Lamb 2:00 PM EST to 4:00 MP EST ($45)

WANT DOUBLE THE DAME DANGER? Get the BUNDLE and SAVE!

Dangerous Dames Bundle: Pirate Princess to Bulletproof Barbie

Both Cait AND me for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! Squeee! SAVE $15 for the alcohol you might need afterwards to…celebrate 😀 ($75)

***Recordings included with purchase to reduce chances of ODing on AWESOME.

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

Careening toward a holiday weekend here in the States and…if I could ONLY rest. I need it, but there is so much to DO! *silent scream*

Rest is crucial, yet is often undervalued, mocked and even punished in modern culture. Regardless of profession, the evidence is undeniable that our brains need a break. Taking time off and—GASP—even having fun pays off in major ways. If you’re too busy to take time off? Then odds are you need more rest.

I am truly honored to be presenting for the Cruising Writers’ Retreat…and part of me is freaking out because I’ve always had a tough time resting and having fun.

How can you have fun when all the LAUNDRY is not finished?

This is likely why I was an early bloomer and got Shingles when I was forty. Hey, I am a work in progress, too. Yet, having been someone who’s hit the WALL (more than once, since I’m a Type A overachiever), I thought I’d take time to address the chronically busy.

Many of us see an ad for a writing retreat, let alone one on a CRUISE and recoil. Oh, the cost, and the time and I have so much to DO! You just don’t get it. Such a frivolity, I can’t…

*hangs head between knees*

Yes, you can. I can. This is not a frivolity, it’s an investment. Here is why. Vacations cost money, but burnout can cost us far more than cash…

Beating Burnout 

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

Burnout is real. Burnout is that expanse beyond stress. When we are stressed we still believe we can ‘get things under control.’ We still believe we can win at this game of Life Whack-A-Mole and ADD IN Publishing Whack-A-Mole! #Genius #OrNot

Burnout happens for a number of reasons.

Maybe we haven’t learned how to set effective boundaries. Instead of us being in charge of our day, everyone else wants a piece of our time. We free up an hour here, then almost immediately fill it with some new activity. Our internal resources (energy, passion, and will) steadily become stretched beyond capacity until…SNAP.

We are, in effect, red-lining our engine. Like a car, it IS possible to push into and past the red line…but only for so long. Anything pushed for long periods of time beyond designed capacities will eventually fail.

An engine burns up. Humans burn OUT.

Without proper rest, we tip past that often invisible line into a dangerous area. Unlike being in a state of stress where we still care, we still believe if we just worked harder, and where we still have hope, burnout is a dead zone. This is a place of apathy.

Stress impacts our body and mind, but burnout is a malaise of the soul.

This is when we become despondent, angry, hopeless, and see no point to what we’re doing. As authors, it’s easy to get to this point (where most give up). We often still have to work a day job, take care of family responsibilities, tend general ‘adulting.’ Some of us might be in the role of caregiver for elderly or ill parents.

When we finish ALL THIS…then we write.

Not only do we need to write, but there’s social media, branding, platform, newsletters, marketing, algorithms, guest posts, and promotion and pretty soon we fly off Hell’s Hamster Wheel and CRASH.

Change Your Space

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

It seems so simple. Rest more. Deep down we KNOW we’re being foolish by never letting up on the gas pedal. Can’t we just learn to invoke the NO? Why do we promise to set boundaries, only to one day wake up with nothing left?

All we can think about is running away from home…but that would take too much energy. Energy we don’t have. Besides, we would have to leave our blanket fort.

The reason this happens is we lose perspective. We get so caught in the routine of life that, when small tasks keep piling on, we don’t notice the additional heat.

It’s like the slow-boiling frog sitting there as the temperature notches up ever so slowly. We don’t even realize anything is amiss, that we need to JUMP. Because this heat is building incrementally, we’re utterly unaware we’re being boiled alive.

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

Changing location does wonders for combatting burnout. It obviously can give us the much-needed rest. Additionally, once we step out of the everyday, we gain perspective.

A fresh vantage point offers us renewed clarity on exactly how much garbage is crammed into our day. What can GO? Which tasks can be delegated? Why are we leaving our writing for last (if there is any time left)?

Also, changing location allows the brain time to take all the data it has collected (television, books, ideas, conversations, dreams) and make these loose connections come TOGETHER. This is the time that novel might all come together. It might be the place where we finally SEE what we’ve been doing wrong (or right) all along!

Some of the greatest revelations in history happened during a BREAK. Newton’s sudden epiphany about gravity occurred while out on a leisurely walk, NOT when he was in his study cramming more notes and math into his brain.

Now, it didn’t ALL come to him on that walk. The information was in his head. It took getting away for his brain to be able to SHOW him the final BIG PICTURE.

Broaden Your World

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

Again, a retreat like this is an investment in YOU and your art and your future. It’s ensuring your imagination’s proper development.

As an analogy, what have we learned about working the same muscles over and over? Eventually, one ends up with what is known as a ‘repetitive work injury.’ Maybe the same repeated motion tears out a rotator cuff or we develop carpal tunnel or crippling tendonitis.

In short, the same over and over can serve up some debilitating consequences. We need to rest certain muscle groups.

When at the gym we don’t use only one machine, work only one muscle group. If we do, we’re asking for a lot of pain in the future. The ideal goal for optimal fitness is to cross-train. We want to challenge our body in different ways, on different planes, from different angles, right? We also need days off. Rest days where the body can recuperate.

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

The same goes for our imagination and mind. If we’ve only ever experienced one sort of life, our ability to empathize, to get into the heads of other characters, to be able to describe other landscapes, etc. can only develop to a certain level (eventually it will become stunted).

Sure, we can use books and movies to help, much like I can use a machine to mimic climbing a mountain.

But is the mountain climbing machine the same as going and climbing an actual mountain? On the machine, it is all safe and controlled and only challenges a limited range of what I can do.

On a mountain, I must contend with altitude, wind, weather, terrain that might suddenly be GONE (landslide) and be able to keep pressing. Tethered to a cliff, I must face terror, exhaustion, doubt…the urge to PEE.

Also? Climbing a REAL mountain comes with great stories, experiences, pictures, and actual bragging rights.

Imagination and creativity are the same. YES, please read. I can always tell writers who not only don’t read the genre they want to sell books in, but can really spot those who don’t read at ALL. But second-hand experience only develops our minds so much. Virtual can only go so far.

Networking (Yeah, Get Out More)

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

One of the greatest advantages we can gain from a conference, a retreat or even a cruise retreat is that we will make friends and connections in person. Also, these connections are of a different caliber (bear with me). Anyone can hop on-line for free and claim they take their writing careers seriously. Maybe they do.

I know we all start somewhere. When I started writing, I’d lost everything and had to live with my disabled mother. We were broke, eating Ramen and praying the lights wouldn’t be shut off.

But at least we had each other 🙂 …

Anyway, joining a local writing critique group was my first step in networking. I put skin in the game. It cost me $35 a year and time (attendance). Eventually, though, I plateaued. I kept getting rejected and had no idea how to fix my novel. Books only taught so much.

It wasn’t until I scraped up enough money for my first writing conference that I experienced my first GIANT leap ahead.

The reason was because a) the conference had experts I had no in-person access to otherwise and b) fellow attendees took their futures seriously enough to put out money and invest in success. This weeded out a lot of the hobbyists I’d been surrounded by for years.

Hobbyists could barely be bothered to attend a meeting for a critique group that cost less than $6 a month. Not everyone in the group was dead broke like I was. They simply didn’t take their writing seriously enough to sacrifice financially to make it to the next level.

I know some folks do face the financial challenge, but others can find money for everyone else’s dream but are too scared or too guilty to do the same for their own. Why are other’s wants, needs and dreams more worthy? IS it necessary for us to always be last…you, know, if anything is left over.

I’ve been both. I’m crazy generous with those I care about but spend money on myself? Are you crazy?

And that is how I ended up burned out, hiding in a blanket fort.

Enjoy Returns on Rest

Kristen Lamb, Cruising Writers, Cruising Writers Retreat, burnout, reasons to rest, investing in your writing career, benefits of a writing retreat

Maybe y’all have heard of ROI (Return on Investment). This is about RoR (Return on Rest). By attending a conference, I got away, had fun, made friends, broadened my world and recharged. Yet, this ‘vacation’ was far more than the mental, emotional and professional rest I needed.

I made connections with TRUE professionals (NYT & USA Today best-selling authors, NYC literary agents, NYC editors, publicists, experts) who showed me how ‘publishing’ really worked. They shortened my learning curve by pointing me to better resources and also demolishing a lot of my ‘fantasies.’

That part kinda sucked, but operating from truth is better than being stuck in a delusion.

Rest (coupled with learning) helped me recalibrate my expectations (I.e. I was not going to land an agent and a three-book million-dollar deal with my first query letter).

Sorry if I just bummed any of y’all out. Bummed me out for sure.

What is Your TIME Worth?

For those who join us in October, I promise to shorten your learning curve by a decade. How much of ten years of ineffectiveness going to cost? Count the cost of writing books you can’t seem to finish?

Or what about building a brand or platform the wrong way and having to tear down and or start over? It happens all the time.

There is a LOT of misinformation about what a brand and platform IS and how and where to build one. I make all this terrifying stuff fun, simple and effective. You guys are writers, not high-pressure salespeople and mega-marketers and I have ZERO interest in training you how to be one.

Namely, because that crap doesn’t work. So give it a rest 😉 .

My blog gets 1.1 million hits a month, about a half a million unique visits a year, and I have over 50,000 dedicated subscribers (suffice to say maybe I know a little). I’ve never automated, never used a newsletter, and pretty much only have time for some goofing off on Facebook.

Ads, gimmicks, and high-pressure promotional campaigns didn’t build this number. Common sense and FUN built it. Maybe I’ll add in a newsletter or some ads and promotion to enhance what I already have, but I chose to build my brand/platform on relationships and authentic connections. Those last a LOT longer than the latest fads.

Technology changes. People don’t. Don’t believe me? Read Shakespeare. Go look up your ex on Facebook.

There, proved my point.

REST, ALREADY!

For many, I know suggesting a cruise ranks along with me suggesting you indulge in eating a plate of hot wings coated in gold dust while relaxing in a Learjet. Trust me, I get it. A cruise seems way too out of reach, and maybe it is (for now.)

When I was broke and struggling, mastering couponing more than writing, I learned to call this my meantime.

What was true at the moment didn’t mean it was true forever. Back then, going hiking for a day or walking my dogs in a nice park were my forms of rest.  And even then, resting was hard (perhaps even more so). I was THIRTY-FOUR, living with my MOTHER and needed to WORK and on and on…and guess what?

I burned out then, too.

For others, all the money you might be tempted to throw into gimmicky nonsense that won’t work (or at least not for long)? Use that moolah for the cruise. I’d love a chance to meet you.

We can hang out, ask the staff how many bodies can fit in the dessert cooler and how long until anyone would notice the smell…then learn what a cruise ship BRIG looks like!

On second thought, the pool looks nice.

Regardless, people are like computers. Sometimes, all they need to work properly is to UNPLUG!

Trust me, email will be there when you get back.

What are your thoughts?

Do you have a hard time resting? Does the idea of a vacation give you apoplexy? It still does this to me. In fact, those who go on the cruise might need to make sure I don’t end up helping fold towels or bussing tables. Sigh. Do you find it easy to lavish on others, but you’re always dead last? And being last, do you find ‘The List’ repopulates before you get ‘your turn’?

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!

What do you WIN? For the month of MAY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Also NOW OFFERING MORE CLASSES PLUS ON DEMAND…

Retelling Myths & Fairytales

Instructor: USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds
Price: $65 USD Standard (Cool Upgrades Available)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY May 25th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Myths and fairytales are as fundamental to human existence as communication itself. We grow up hearing these stories, being formed by them, and often rebelling against them.

One of the hottest trends in publishing right now is bringing these stories back and giving them new life with creative interpretations and retellings.

Done right, a retelling can capture the public imagination, give us new insights into our society and ourselves, and sweep us away to a time and place where everything, including justice and happy endings, is possible. Get your spot today! HERE.

The Yarn Behind the Book: Backstory

Instructor: Cait Reynolds

Price: $55.00 USD

Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom

When: Friday, June 1, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST

Behind every good book is an entire story that happens before the reader ever opens to page one. This is the backstory, and done right, it is what sets the stage, provides clues and cues, and rescues you from writer’s block.

A good backstory will help with logic and consistency in the plot, developing complex motivations for characters, and sorting out exactly what needs to happen going forward as you either plot or pants your way to the end.

This class will cover the following topics – and much more:

  • The elements of a backstory;
  • How to take your current plot idea and work backwards into a backstory;
  • Integrating character profiles and the backstory;
  • How the backstory relates to the logline and synopsis;
  • Using the backstory to dig yourself out of corners and shake off writer’s block;
  • Why a backstory is crucial to writing a series.

SIGN UP HERE!

A recording of this class is also included with purchase.

About the Instructor:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in the Boston area with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking, running, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

On Demand Training!

Ready for Book Beast Mode? I Live to Serve…Up Some TRAINING!

For anyone who longs to accelerate their plot skills, I recommend:

ON DEMAND Plot Boss: Writing Novels Readers Want to BUY. 

Two hours of intensive plot training from MOI…delivered right to your computer to watch as much as you like 😀 .

The Art of Character is also now available for ON DEMAND.

And if you’re ready for BOOK BEAST MODE and like saving some cash, you can get BOTH Plot Boss and Art of Character in the…

Story Boss Bundle (ON DEMAND).

Almost FIVE HOURS with me, in your home…lecturing you. It’ll be FUN! 

I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of my debut novel The Devil’s Dance.

The Devil's Dance, The Devil's Dance Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, Kristen Lamb novel, Kristen Lamb mystery-thriller, Romi Lachlan

Running, marathon, heartbreak hill, Boston marathon, writing, Curse

It’s Cait Reynolds blog time, which, as you know, is probably both a blessing and a curse. Haven’t blogged for a while but, it’s like the old Country & Western song: How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away? But yes, I’m back which might be a blessing or a curse.

Speaking of curses, that’s what I’m here to talk about today.

Writers tend to be a superstitious bunch, much like runners. Even the most skeptical among us can tell when the stars are not aligned on a writing day. Runners can feel when their bodies just aren’t hitting on all cylinders.

From drinking the same tea while writing to wearing lucky socks for race day, many of us can’t help but look for and cling to signs/omens/Tarot readings for encouragement.

Because we ALL need encouragement.

But, sometimes, there comes a moment when it feels like all the forces of nature are against us. No amount of stretching our prose or IT bands seems to make any difference. It’s positively spooky how blocked we get.

Now, living in Boston and being both a runner and a Red Sox fan, I consider myself something of an expert in curses. I mean, it took Bruce Springsteen’s rock n’ roll exorcism during his concert at Fenway Park to lift the curse of the Bambino…and that year, we finally won the World Series.

You can’t tell me that ish doesn’t work.

Running, marathon, heartbreak hill, Boston marathon, writing, Curse
Do you know how hard it was to find funny Boston memes without the f-bomb for this post? DO YOU?!! DO YOU F*$#@*&* APPRECIATE WHAT I DO FOR YOU????!!!!

I also happen to be descended from a long line of eerily prescient/omniscient/ohnoshedidn’t Slavic women who can look right into your soul and see you didn’t wash your hands after using the public restroom.

Yeah. I know my curses.

Now, settle in, my loves. Ignore the goat demon in the corner. He’s harmless. Mostly. Oh, and careful with the salt circle. Summoning with a smudged salt circle can be…messy.

29 and Feeling Fine

writing tips, how to write a novel, Boston Marathon, Boston Red Sox, writing tips, curse, Cait Reynolds, Heartbreak Hill, writing success

Like all curses, the Mile 25 Curse begins with the seduction of possibility, invincibility, and a good pair of running shoes.

We get the Big Idea. Get all excited, develop characters, settings, plot, outlines. When we jump in, it’s both feet first and hit the ground running like we are our very own NaNoWriMo on meth.

The words are flowing. It’s easy. Effortless. This time…this time is gonna be different. We’re going to ride that wave of effortless all the way through to THE END. It’s just gonna flow.

It’s like that first run, when we blast our way through 1.5 miles at a blistering 14:06/mi pace. Hardcore, man.

We blow through the first 29,000-30,000 words of a full-length novel in record time. And it’s good work. Some of our best. We’re in it to win it, and this is rocking!

We’ve reached the end of Act I, and now, our characters are on their way. Only, the yellow brick road turns out to be paved with the broken backs of melting Peeps, and now, we’re running on a road that’s slow, sticky, and somewhat distressing.

Welcome to HELL…or Act II. Too many writers mistakenly believe writing a novel is a sprint or a fun run. No, it’s a marathon that requires training, preparations, patience and a very high pain tolerance.

Because all novelists will eventually hit…

The Heartbreak Hill of the WIP

But hey, we’ve got a plan. We’ve got an outline. The fresh idealism of the first 30,000 words has worn off, but we kinda knew this was going to happen. We had hoped it wouldn’t. But, it did. Just like we wish training for a 10k simply felt like training for two 5ks…but it’s sooo not.

So, it’s not totally shocking, and while it may take a few days to resign ourselves to the fact Act II will always be a slower, harder slog, we’re ready to soldier on.

The first stirrings of real unease might pop up around 40,000-45,000 words. We feel a little proud we’ve gotten this far. That’s a lot of words, probably around a halfway point for the whole book.

It’s also the Heartbreak Hill of our story.

Heartbreak Hill is the cruelest mile of the Boston Marathon. It’s a steady 3.3% incline for more than 2 km. Now, that may not seem like much, but remember, runners have already done 20.6 miles. There have been shorter, steeper climbs and longer, quad-punishing downhills.

Boston Marathon sign at Heartbreak Hill

Runners are caked in salt, blood, and sticky dried Gatorade. It could be beating down icy rain or unseasonably hot. Healed injuries are tweaking, threatening to unravel. The playlist is failing to inspire. Even the kisses and oranges from the Wellesley College girls (both offered freely to all) can’t quite distract from the pain.

All the cowbell in the world can’t help you now.

2014 Boston Marathon: the famous Wellesley kissing line.
Wellesley College student Lauren Dow solicited and RECEIVED kisses from the passing runners. Section: Sports, Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Writers and runners slow and walk a few steps, cry a little, then grit their teeth and get back in the game. Because it’s only 5.6 miles or 45,000 words to the finish line. This is the hardest test of what we are made of. Can we ENDURE?

We got this….*weeps*

The Mile 25 Curse

I used to live right at mile 25 of the Boston Marathon, which is just before Kenmore Square (mile 25.2), where the crowds really start going wild. From Kenmore, it’s just one more mile to the finish line.

But there’s one last nasty surprise for runners. To get to Kenmore Square, they have to run over the I-90 overpass, a mini-Heartbreak Hill. It’s the psych-out sucker punch. CURSE it ALL!

Boston Marathon sign

For writers, that moment of despair generally comes at the end of Act II, or about 60,000 words-ish. It’s a sudden existential inadequacy and dread:

Oh-my-God-this-is-the-worst-stuff-I’ve-ever-written-what-was-I-thinking-is-it-too-late-to-take-up-Olympic-curling-as-a-career-instead-who-would-want-to-read-this-crap-I-suck-as-a-writer-I-should-just-go-crawl-in-a-hole-and-die.

You know…something like that.

Every writer faces a Mile 25 Curse moment. There are no talismans to protect us against it, no surefire cures. We are alone and unprepared to face our demons. Every. Single. Time.

The Mile 25 Curse can make us abandon our WIP to chase fluffy plot bunnies that PROMISE to be easier to write and give us instant fame, fortune, and a lifetime supply of Diet Coke.

The curse doesn’t care if our WIP is any good. It doesn’t care about our dreams. It has one goal: to trip us up before the finish line.

There are runners who collapse at mile 25 in the Boston Marathon, physically and mentally pushed beyond their limit. There are also the runners who slow to a walk as they digest the grim reality of one last hill. You can see them weighing the options in their heads. Should I just give up and walk the rest of the way? Do I have it in me?

How badly do I want this?

They take a deep breath…and resume running, even if it’s merely a limping jog. No way they’ve come this far to just give up.

So, they just keep running.

The Finish Line

And, really, that’s what I’m trying to tell you today. Keep pressing. Mile 25 is a finite thing. It is one mile…or 5,280 ft….or 1,500 steps, and each step brings you that much closer to the finish line.

Spencer the Boston Marathon dog will cheer you on!

When we are at the end of Act II, there isn’t that much further to go. It’s another 15,000-20,000 words at most for Act III. We know how the story is going to end (or should) and what needs to happen. There’s no more slogging through the confusing, mushy bits we’re not sure of in Act II.

This is a final sprint for the FINISH!

A marathon is about crossing the finish line. It isn’t about sashaying, moon-walking, or pronking across it. How we cross doesn’t matter. We simply have to cross it, limping, bloody, and shaking from way too much caffeine after writing the worst 12,000 words of our lives.

Nobody looks good crossing the finish line of a race. Even the 100-meter dash–sure, it’s not far enough that hair and makeup get mussed, but there’s the awkward ‘runner face’ everyone makes, which is halfway between the putting-on-mascara face and the O-face.

Not even Kenyans look their best at a finish line.

I have yet to finish a book and wake up the next morning looking like a million dollars. It’s more that I look like a reject extra for The Walking Dead. I probably smell like a reject extra from The Walking Dead, too, because who has time to shower when we’re 4,000 from the finish line?

The point is, it doesn’t matter if you are sweaty, blotchy, puffy, a drippy mess from allergies, or prone to random hysterical laughter by the time you finish your book. YOU FINISHED.

And as a fellow writer and perhaps a fellow runner…I’ll be there to cheer you on!

Coach Cait is ready! (Post-run on a GOOD day)

***

Thank You CAIT!

Kristen here. If anyone ever sees me running? RUN FOR YOUR $%#@#$% LIFE! Because there is something with teeth or a chainsaw behind me.

But, whether we are runners or not, writing is an endurance sport. I choose motherhood, grappling in Jiu Jitsu, and time with my mother to train my endurance. It helps 🙂 .

***Scroll down for new classes from Cait and for On Demand classes for hardcore storytelling training from MOI!

What Are Your Thoughts?

I love hearing from you!

Do you find yourself starting and never finishing? Is this from lack of planning? Failing to fully prepare? Not enough training? Maybe underestimating HOW FREAKING HARD writing a novel ACTUALLY is?

Are you being too hard on yourself? A commenter last time was really down she couldn’t finish her FIRST ‘novel.’ Hell, it took me no less than FIFTEEN ‘novels’ before I finished. That whole ‘endurance training thing’ 😉 .

What do you WIN? For the month of MAY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Also NOW OFFERING MORE CLASSES PLUS ON DEMAND…

Retelling Myths & Fairytales

Instructor: USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds
Price: $65 USD Standard (Cool Upgrades Available)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY May 25th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Myths and fairytales are as fundamental to human existence as communication itself. We grow up hearing these stories, being formed by them, and often rebelling against them.

One of the hottest trends in publishing right now is bringing these stories back and giving them new life with creative interpretations and retellings.

Done right, a retelling can capture the public imagination, give us new insights into our society and ourselves, and sweep us away to a time and place where everything, including justice and happy endings, is possible. Get your spot today! HERE.

The Yarn Behind the Book: Backstory

Instructor: Cait Reynolds

Price: $55.00 USD

Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom

When: Friday, June 1, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST

Behind every good book is an entire story that happens before the reader ever opens to page one. This is the backstory, and done right, it is what sets the stage, provides clues and cues, and rescues you from writer’s block.

A good backstory will help with logic and consistency in the plot, developing complex motivations for characters, and sorting out exactly what needs to happen going forward as you either plot or pants your way to the end.

This class will cover the following topics – and much more:

  • The elements of a backstory;
  • How to take your current plot idea and work backwards into a backstory;
  • Integrating character profiles and the backstory;
  • How the backstory relates to the logline and synopsis;
  • Using the backstory to dig yourself out of corners and shake off writer’s block;
  • Why a backstory is crucial to writing a series.

A recording of this class is also included with purchase.

About the Instructor:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in the Boston area with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking, running, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

On Demand Training!

Ready for Book Beast Mode? I Live to Serve…Up Some TRAINING!

For anyone who longs to accelerate their plot skills, I recommend:

ON DEMAND Plot Boss: Writing Novels Readers Want to BUY. 

Two hours of intensive plot training from MOI…delivered right to your computer to watch as much as you like 😀 .

The Art of Character is also now available for ON DEMAND.

And if you’re ready for BOOK BEAST MODE and like saving some cash, you can get BOTH Plot Boss and Art of Character in the…

Story Boss Bundle (ON DEMAND).

Almost FIVE HOURS with me, in your home…lecturing you. It’ll be FUN! 

I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of my debut novel The Devil’s Dance.

The Devil's Dance, The Devil's Dance Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, Kristen Lamb novel, Kristen Lamb mystery-thriller, Romi Lachlan